Triumph over tragedy — that’s veteran Larry Draughn’s story. It’s one to be shared and celebrated when NBC Sports Network airs its “Ultimate Fishing Experience” episode on Feb. 9 at 8:30 p.m., featuring Draughn and his determination to succeed as an angler.
A Marine corporal on a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2009, Draughn stepped on an IED while on patrol. Both of his legs had to be amputated. In the face of such adversity, Draughn decided to turn to his dream of becoming a bass fishing pro. Helping him to pursue that goal, the TV series surprised Draughn in a hero-themed episode, giving him a new Legend boat with a Mercury outboard motor.
Chris Bowes, Bassmaster Opens tournament director, was a guest on the show when Draughn received the gifts.
“It was a wonderful unveiling, and being a small part of it is a tremendous experience,” Bowes said. “They really tricked the boat out for him as a small thank you for all he’s done and lost as part of his efforts to protect our freedom and the freedom of those overseas.”
While Draughn was simply hoping for a co-angler berth in the Opens, “Ultimate Fishing Experience” also paid his entries as a pro in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens.
As part of that surprise, Bowes was asked to be present to welcome Draughn to the Opens.
“It was obviously extremely emotional for us all,” Bowes said. “You change somebody’s life with something like that and let them fulfill their dream.”
Draughn and his wife, Kaytlin, also will enjoy a VIP experience at the Bassmaster Classic in Shreveport, La., Feb. 24-26.
“We all know that it takes a lot of effort and drive to succeed in the sport of professional angling,” Bowes said. “Someone who can overcome the type of life obstacles Larry has done has a tremendous head start on the drive it takes to become a professional angler. You need to have the ability to adapt and overcome a variety of challenges that hit you on a tournament day — weather and fish movement and other factors. Larry has the ability to thrive in that type of environment.”